AJ Cook on the “Criminal Minds” Reboot and the Mascara She Uses On-Set

AJ Cook on the “Criminal Minds” Reboot and the Mascara She Uses On-Set featured image
Cibelle Levi

You may know her best for her role as Special Agent Jennifer ‘JJ’ Jareau on the long-running CBS series Criminal Minds, and now actress AJ Cook is back in her fan-favorite role on Paramount+’s Criminal Minds: Evolution—a reboot (it returns this coming Thursday) that explores what the characters have been up to since the show wrapped in February 2020. We recently caught up with Cook to dish on on-set beauty musts, her after-work decompression rituals and what it’s like working behind-the-scenes with her sons.

What’s it been like to return to the series?

It’s been an incredible experience getting everyone back together again. It’s such a unique opportunity to get to make this show on a streaming platform. Everything you know and love about Criminal Minds is still there, just elevated. It’s more serialized, which allows us to dive a little deeper into the lives and minds of our hero’s at the BAU.

The show can be heavy. How do you unwind after your day on set?

I’ve become really good at compartmentalization. All the heavy, dark stuff stays locked up until I’m back at work again. The unwinding process starts on my drive home. A lot of the time I just drive in silence and decompress. It’s magical. I’m a mother of two boys so silence isn’t something I get to experience all that often!

Congratulations on directing an episode this season. What’s the most difficult thing about directing—and directing your sons on the show?

The episode I directed this season had a pretty intense JJ storyline that involved her family. My boys in real life play my boys on the show as well. I had several “pinch me” moments while directing and acting with my boys. It felt so special. I still can’t believe I get to do this for a living and to get to do it with family is a true gift. The most difficult part for me is having to wear two hats. Acting can be tricky while you’re directing because you can’t sit at the monitors and watch your own performance. You have to just trust that it all worked and hope for the best. I much prefer directing when I don’t have to act as well.

Cibelle Levi

Can you share any beauty products you use on-set?

DiorShow Mascara ($30) is my go-to on Criminal Minds. It always has been. This season we started playing around with some of the eyeshadow sticks from Thrive Causemetics ($26). We’ll add a little shimmer to the inside corners of my eyes to make them pop.

What was the biggest beauty or style change you saw when you moved from Canada to the U.S.?

Honestly, I really noticed how “brand” obsessed everyone seemed to be here. I never paid attention to anything like that in Canada, but I also grew up in a blue collar town. We didn’t have a ton of money.

What are you excited about as 2023 begins?

I’m just excited I made it through another year! My family and loved ones are all happy and healthy. What more could I ask for?

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